Oprah is so well-known that she doesn’t even need a last name! Her early years in her career were influenced strongly by viewing Barbara Walters on The Today Show. She was a senior in high school when she entered a contest. Upon entering the contest she had to choose a career goal. Her choice was broadcast journalism because the other contestants chose to be a nurse and teacher. This choice turned out to be a very wise choice. She won the contest! This win landed her a job as a newscaster while still attending Tennessee State University.
Although the stress of a job and college were taxing, Oprah loved the business and knew this was an actual viable option for her. This led Oprah to a job at Baltimore’s largest television station. She was at first on, then off, the evening news. She was then placed on an early morning interview show where she felt the click -This Is It! This is my future! Her obstacles were many. She was a woman, she was African-American, she was poor but she wasn’t a quitter. She knew to succeed meant to keep on her path and to not lose sight of her goal. She knew this by the time she was three or four years old.
She knew that she would accomplish something spectacular. And indeed she has; she began hosting a television show in 1984 in Chicago which soon became syndicated. She knew that to remain successful and in a leadership position that she needed to purchase her show, in which she did. This led to many other ventures in her life such as the cable channel Oxygen and her magazine, O. She is so successful that she was acknowledged as the wealthiest African American woman in entertainment. Life Magazine also listed her in “The Most 100 Influential People of the 20th Century” in 1998.
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Oprah has become so influential because she is living proof that adversity can be overcome. Abuse can be overcome. Poverty and racism can be overcome. She is an icon to all of those that struggle. Her openness about her battle with her weight is just another avenue for people to connect with and be influenced by her. She’s open about her past, people relate to that. Influence is power, especially if you show the shoes that you have traveled in. She is an advocate for African Americans, women, children, poverty, and racism. She touches nearly everyone in some facet of their life. Oprah’s leadership style is ‘Lead By Example.
We have watched her air her abuse stories on air as well as her weight problems. This humanizes her as well as openly shows that any weakness can become a strength if one perseveres. She never leads by letting others pave the way. She paves the way! She opens doors for education of minorities in impoverished countries that most of the world has chosen to forget. She also leads through compassion and conviction. What impresses me most about Oprah is she never allowed herself to “stay down. ” She had always managed to overcome all of her personal and professional obstacles to achieve personal and professional success.
She values her personal growth and success more, and there again, it shows that she is only human like the rest of us. Even if she were to become poor today, she would still keep trying to learn the life lessons that have made her strong and truly convicted in her belief system. Conversely, what I found unimpressive is her over-playing the race card at times. If she promotes a movie that is predominately African American, she is overly friendly and has even been noted to share some “private” moment on air that the rest of America may not understand. The favoritism toward these fellow African-Americans can sometimes be nauseating.